The Trump Justice Department was not alone in suspecting that congressional Democrats leaked sensitive information to reporters about the Russia probe, according to text messages reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
Peter Strzok, the top FBI investigator on the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, sent text messages to colleagues in March 2017 speculating that Democrats from the House Intelligence Committee and on the so-called Gang of Eight were behind media leaks.
The messages could shed new light on a New York Times report that prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for metadata from the phones of Reps. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) as part of the leak hunt. Schiff is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Swalwell has served on the panel since 2015. Prosecutors sought the lawmakers’ records in order to ascertain the sources for stories published in 2017 and 2018 regarding possible links between Trump associates and Russians. Prosecutors empaneled a grand jury as part of the probe, which was quietly closed without charges.
Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) decried the report, saying that Trump weaponized the Justice Department to investigate his political opponents. But Strzok’s FBI text messages show that even investigators scrutinizing Trump suspected that Democrats were behind two separate leaks to reporters.
Strzok wrote on March 17, 2017, of a leak of documents to an unnamed reporter who he said "has great sources on [the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence], especially minority side." Democrats were in the minority of Congress at the time.
Strzok also suggested in a message on March 23, 2017, that Democrats on the Gang of Eight were sources for a CNN story about the Russia probe. CNN reported that same morning that U.S. officials said the FBI had information that Trump associates may have communicated with Russian operatives to coordinate the release of information damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign.